Strategies to Enhance Axon Regeneration in the Injured Central Nervous System
As we make progress in deciphering the pathways regulating axon regeneration in peripheral sensory neurons, we are testing whether their manipulation can enhance axon regeneration in the CNS. We are currently using pharmacological, genetic and Acute Intermittent Hypoxia (AIH) approaches to determine if long-range axon regeneration and functional recovery can be obtained in the injured spinal cord and optic nerve models of CNS injury.
Our current approach involves combining AIH with simultaneously relieving chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans (CSPG)-mediated inhibition of axon growth and plasticity in the injured spinal cord. Importantly, AIH has been used in human patients and was shown to be a safe and effective treatment strategy to strengthen recovery (such as walking enhancement) in human patients with incomplete chronic SCI. As we continue to make progress in deciphering the epigenetic and transcriptional pathways regulating axon regeneration in peripheral sensory neurons, we are testing if corresponding manipulations enhance axon regeneration in the CNS, using both the spinal cord and the optic nerve injury models.